Exfoliators have undergone a remarkable transformation because the ‘90s. These days, the famous Saint Ives Apricot Fresh Skin Scrub has more competition, as exfoliators are available an array of textures and formats. (Some are gritty scrubs, while others are silky liquids you’d never know are sloughing off the highest layer of your skin.)
But before you pluck one from the shelf, it’s price reading this comprehensive guide to easy methods to exfoliate your face and body properly. FYI, it is not a one-size-fits-all-deal just like the once-prominent scrubs led us to imagine. Ahead, six board-certified dermatologists answer your pressing questions on the skin-care ritual.
Meet the experts:
- Alexis Stephens, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founding father of Parkland Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in Coral Springs, Florida.
- Macrene Alexiades, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist on the Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center of New York in New York City.
- Jeannette Graf, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
- Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founding father of Goldfaden MD.
- Karan Lal, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic dermatology at Affiliated Dermatology in Scottsdale, Arizona.
- Kristina Collins, MD, is a Texas-based double board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Austin Skin.
In this story:
What are the advantages of exfoliating?
Let’s start with the plain: It helps remove dead cells that may accumulate on the skin’s surface, which — when used appropriately — might help brighten and reveal brisker, softer skin underneath, says Alexis Stephens, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founding father of Parkland Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in Coral Springs, Florida. But that is not all. Below are advantages you may not find out about.
It might help smooth nice lines.
As skin ages and becomes dehydrated, the enzymes on the outer layer of our skin lose their ability to operate, says Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “The result’s a buildup of dead skin cells,” which may make lines and wrinkles appear more distinguished. Since exfoliation promotes cell renewal, it could actually increase how smooth and even your skin appears.
It might help your products work more effectively.
Dead skin cell buildup can hinder your skin’s absorption of the skin-care products you so-diligently apply. Removing those cells can ultimately help your serums, lotions, and creams “penetrate deeper and work more effectively,” says Dr. Stephens.
It might help prevent breakouts.
“A lesser-known profit is that exfoliation can prevent pimples by clearing pores,” explains Dr. Stephens. But that is to not say you must rub a face scrub throughout your breakouts. Perhaps try a chemical exfoliant.
What is a chemical exfoliant?
Let’s start by clarifying what a chemical exfoliant is not: a scrub. Unlike products that manually remove dead skin cells, chemical exfoliation doesn’t provide the immediate gratification of a physical exfoliant (sorry). However, they work progressively and gently, “breaking the bonds between skin cells, which ends up in a peeling effect,” explains Macrene Alexiades, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Dermatology and Laser Surgery Center of New York in New York City.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
Chemical exfoliants fall under two categories: alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). The major difference between the 2 comes right down to their solubility. AHAs are water-soluble, meaning they work totally on the skin’s surface fairly than penetrating deep into your pores like BHAs.
Popular AHAs you might have heard of are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid, though there are much more that aren’t utilized in skin-care products as steadily. Below you’ll find editor-approved products that contain three of the preferred AHAS, plus a fast rundown of what sets each apart.
Glycolic acid is arguably the preferred AHA. Scientists can create it synthetically in a lab, nevertheless it’s also available naturally via sugarcane. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecule size in comparison with lactic acid and mandelic acid, meaning it could actually absorb into the skin more quickly, says Karan Lal, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic dermatology at Affiliated Dermatology in Scottsdale, Arizona. As you will see below, there are glycolic acid treatments for each facial and body care.
The Inkey List Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Toner not only comes at an inexpensive price point but in addition delivers a potent dose of glycolic acid, containing the maximum concentration permitted in an over-the-counter product, which is 10 percent.